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Environment & Energy Bulletin >>

Energy production, consumption and trade: How Canada and B.C. stack up


  • If British Columbia or Canada ceased to exist tomorrow, the greenhouse gas emissions eliminated from energy production and consumption relative to the global total would be equivalent to a rounding error. 
  • Energy production and trade are hugely important to Canada’s economy.  In 2017, energy represented an 11% contribution to Canada’s GDP, directly employed 276,000 people, and indirectly supported more than 600,000 additional jobs.  Canadians are also energy innovators, a source of technology and process solutions.
  • Energy is also important to British Columbia.  In 2017, we derived $11 billion in value from energy related activities, with energy ranking second to forestry in the province’s merchandise exports.  Energy production and trade support tens of thousands of high-quality jobs and contribute significant tax revenues that help pay for valued services like health care and education.
  • Renewables are an increasingly important part of the energy/electric system, globally, in Canada and in British Columbia.  But they will not replace fossil fuels in the foreseeable future absent a dramatic technology disruption.
  • In all medium-term energy production and consumption scenarios, fossil fuels remain significant, meeting between ~60% and 80% of global primary energy demand for many years to come.
  • In 2017, electricity represented 16% of total global energy production. Of this, renewables (which include hydro) supplied almost 24% of total electricity, with solar/wind/geothermal/biomass together making up just over 8% of the total.  This translates to 4% and just over 1%, respectively, of all energy produced worldwide. 
  • Action on climate change is necessary, both globally and in Canada.  But in the short to medium term, it would be better to focus more attention on adaptation, making both human and natural habitats more resilient and better able to cope with impacts.  At the same time, we should be using our ingenuity to find realistic and pragmatic solutions rather than hamstringing ourselves with increasingly costly, inward-looking policies and regulations. 

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